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Public Statements

Recognizing the Importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding as the House Agriculture Committee marks up H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARMM) Act.

As families struggle to meet their basic needs during the economic downturn, the SNAP short-term food assistance program has become more important than ever. With over 14 percent of American households suffering from food insecurity, SNAP works to ensure that children, unemployed workers, and seniors have the nutrition and extra help they need. SNAP provides essential support for 46.3 million Americans (nearly half of which are children) in 22 million different households. Washington State alone has nearly 1 million people that rely on SNAP benefits.

Changes proposed in the FARMM Act to end broad-based categorical eligibility would hurt low-income families in Washington State. An estimated 80,000 Washingtonians that currently receive SNAP benefits would not qualify or would be dropped from the program. Further, an estimated 280,000 low-income children in SNAP-eligible households that currently have access to free or reduced school meals would no longer have access. Further, FARMM Act provisions to limit which Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments can apply to SNAP benefits, would further limit benefits received through SNAP. These changes would disproportionately impact children, seniors, and working families. In these trying economic times, many Washingtonians cannot afford these cuts.

Congress must stand up for SNAP funding, as the program plays a crucial role in our economic recovery. The best way to lower government spending on SNAP is not through major cuts, but by continuing to help families in need. In Washington State, the average SNAP recipient receives benefits for only nine months. In these tough economic times, SNAP is providing much-needed support in getting families back on their feet.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that my colleagues protect SNAP funding as the FARMM Act goes through the legislative process.

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